Thursday, June 24, 2010


We met Jim and Val Meiling while we were still in Cambrai working on our boat. They stopped at the port for a few days to do some work on their beautiful converted tugboat, Triton. That same year, 2005, we met them in Pont L’Eveque on the river Oise, on our way to Champagne. They stayed with us on the boat one night. They were going back to New Zealand to build a house, so they put their boat up for sale. We have kept in touch since then, following their progress on the building of the house in Christchurch, a ranch style home in the most beautiful setting. Jim went back to work at the airport in Christchurch and Val continued her practice as a mid-wife.

This year they came back to Europe on a vacation to see all their boating friends and to start looking for a boat. They miss their boating life and want to come back. Their house will be put up for sale and they will be buying a boat sometime next year.

Jim and Val arrived at the port of St. Sauveur, parked their car nearby and came to see us. We would be leaving Toulouse the next day, so Bill had to get fuel and take care of last minute details. Jim, Val and I walked to Victor Hugo, the covered market—a most amazing place—so they could experience it. We bought a few things, and on the way back to the port, stopped at a little bistro for lunch. The sky had turned black and just as we arrived on Biesbosch it started to rain.

We spent the afternoon catching up and enjoying ourselves. Later on, the guys went to drop off Jim and Val’s car at Naurouze, our destination, and where they would be picking it up the next day, In the evening, we had a great dinner, lots of wine and wonderful conversation. We were excited to be starting our 2010 cruising season the next day in the company of our friends.

The following day, the sun was shining in its splendor, a beautiful day for navigation. After Bill and Jim filled up the fuel tank, we were ready to cast off. Sadly, we were saying good bye to Sylvianne, our dear captain, who has always been so kind an accommodating, and whom be have come to regard as a good friend. Also our friends Rudy and Jytte, who we hoped to see along the canal before we go up The Rhone, and Jill, a South African lady who had given me some herbs for the boat, and who had been extremely nice to Bill when he came back and was alone working on on Biesbosch.

It took us a couple of locks to get back into the rhythm of things, but having the help of Jim and Val on high locks was great. We went as far as Montgiscard, tied east of the lock at quite a nice and solitary spot, about 4 hours total navigation time.

It was 6:00PM, aperitif time, so we sat in the wheel house set up for our lovely drinks and I cooked an arroz con pollo—they had never had it—which was a total success. A few bottles of wine were consumed that evening, and we turned in around 11:30 PM.

Next day we left Mongiscard after a nice breakfast, on a very beautiful, sunny day. We stopped for lunch, and arrived at the lock of Ocean, the last one going up and the highest point in the canal, at 6:30 PM. We were alone in our favorite mooring, with nothing but the sounds of the birds and the frogs and surrounded by the most amazing trees.

After our aperitif, Bill and Jim set up the grill for a “grillade” of Toulouse sausage, white sausage and pork chops, all accompanied by grilled eggplant and red peppers and some Indian style potatoes I had gotten at Victor Hugo. We had some good Minervois wine, but the piece de resistance was a bottle of Pegassus Bay Chardonnay from New Zealand, a gift from Jim and Val, and a superb wine.

The next morning, after having checked the monument to Riquet, the engineer who built the Canal du Midi in the 1600’s, and seen the ‘parting of the waters” –at this place the water goes west to The Atlantic and east to the Mediterranean, Jim and Val were to leave and continue on their trip. It was a very short visit, but a most enjoyable one, and we only hope to see them back on the European Waterways some day soon, enjoying this life as much as we do.

Bill and I stayed at Naurouze one more night, after having taken a gorgeous walk around the area. We shall always remember this spot as one of the prettiest on the Canal du Midi and feel very lucky to have been able to stay here the few times we have.

Leaving Naurouze

Jim and Val on tea break

Our grillade

Jim, a grill master

Bill and Jim Tying up at Naurouze

A beautiful Tjalk just out of the dry dock

Locking up

Lock house with chapel

Jim at work on lock

Our mooring at Montgiscard

Nuser II our friends Rudy and Jytte's boat

Sylvianne and Jill

At the port in Toulouse

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


After our wonderful winter in USA, where we spent time both in California and Miami with a 3 week trip to Bogota, Bill flew to California to see Ian while I went to The Bahamas with my family. From Los Angeles, Bill flew to Barcelona and then took a train to Toulouse. After The Bahamas, I took a short trip to New York to visit my friend Stella, and flew from there to Madrid for a short 3 day stay with our friend Elena. Bill had been cleaning up the boat in Toulouse, the weather there was not great at the time, so he decided to meet me in Madrid, had a great time walking around and enjoying the sights and on May 7 we flew to Toulouse.

Our friends Justo and Stella from Miami would be arriving the next day, so after unpacking suitcases, we were ready to receive them. We had planned to cruise with them from Toulouse to Castelnaudary before leaving for Monaco, but they wanted to relax in Toulouse and see the city, so that is what we did. On Sunday for Mother's Day, we drove with them to Labastide D'Anjou where we had made a reservation at the Hostellerie Etienne for the best cassoulet in the area. We had a wonderful meal and afterwards took a drive around so they could see Avignonet with its beautiful tower and Catelnaudary and its grand basin. The next 2 days we spent shopping and enjoying Toulouse before our trip to Monaco. We bought some great food at Victor Hugo's market to take with us.

Justo and Stella had rented a car when they arrived, so on Wednesday, we got up early, packed the car and drove to Chateau La Grave , near Carcassonne, to buy the wine for the week. It is our favorite Minervois wine, and the same one we had taken to Monaco last year. We had a very nice driveto The South, and despite the fact that the Cannes Festival was starting, as was the F1 Grand Prix, the traffic was not bad. Our friends Ricardo and Celina from Miami were arriving that night in Nice, so after settling in our apartment in Monaco--the same apt. we had last year-- we drove to Nice airport to pick up our friends.

As it so often happens, their luggage did not arrive. One of their flights had been cancelled because of the volcano eruption, the luggage had been put on a flight with a different airline, so therefore the problem. They were exhausted. After filling out papers at luggage claim, we finally left the airport. Their luggage would be delivered to the apartment the next day. It was indeed delivered 2 DAYS LATER! Our poor friends were jet-lagged and upset, but given the circumstances, they were very good sports. They managed to enjoy all our outings, bouillabaise in Nice, trip to the little village of Eze, still wearnig the same clothes they had flown with.

Unfortunately Bill had gotten a cold just before we left, so Thursday he slept all day and Friday most of the day. Once he felt better he did manage, as he always does, to get some wonderful photos by sneaking into places only credentialed photographers are allowed to be.

Saturday and Sunday we spent walking around Monaco and enjoying the spectacle that te Grand Prix brings: the cars, the people, the beauty of Montecarlo and the incredible sound of the F! cars as they scream by. We had drinks at the Hotel Metropol which has been beautifully remodeled, watched the F 3 race from the Cafe de Paris and of course walked along the port to see all the yachts belonging to the race teams. What a show! We even ran into our friend Beppe, a friend of my nephew's, who so kindly had made reservations for us for Friday night dinner at La Piazza. He and a few of his friends had rented a yacht for the weekend, and they were obviously having a grand time.

Just before noon, we were to meet Spiro,a friend of Justo's who would be taking all of us to the bank to watch the race. EFG is located on the Avenue Ostende, where the cars come up the hill before they turn onto the Casino. It is a gorgeous building with 4 terraces, and there were quite a few of us. The tables with parasols were set on the terraces and the buffet was fantastic. Wine was plentiful, and the view of the track, the port and the palace in the background made for a most wonderful experience.

We had a great time eating, talking and watching the race. After 5:00 PM, the race was over, so we walked back to the apartment, said good by to our 4 friends who were continuing on to Provence and then Paris, and we decided to stay in and unwind after such an eventful weekend. The next morning Jean Yves, the doorman at the Victor Hugo Palace, where we were staying, drove us to the train station where we took the train back to Toulouse. We stopped in Nice, changed trains and continued on our way. There were many stops and we even had to wait for about 45 minutes while they did some repair to the tracks. We arrived in Toulouse after 8:30 PM, so we took a taxi to the port. The next day our friends Jim and Val from New Zealand would be arriving around 10: 30 AM .


On April 19 my four sisters, my brother in law and my brother Pablo, his wife and I all sailed to Bimini on El MICO, my brother's catamaran. It was a one week trip and a most delightful time for all. We tied up at Bimini Bay Resort, a very new and well run resort with several pools, bars and restaurants and even a few boutiques. On two occasions we sailed from Bimini to Cat Key and Gun Key just for the day. The trip was a wonderful opportunity to spend time together as a family, so we took advantage of every minute. We ate, drank and basked in the sun, so it was a fantastic little vacation for all of us.

Friday, February 05, 2010


Conques, France

Beautiful medieval Conques

Marc, Sid and Bill at their shipyard in Gannay sur Loire

With Tristan and Paulette in Mars sur Allier

With Luc and Elodie, Tristan and Paulette's gorgeous grandchildren

Colmar, Alsace.

Street painter in Aachen, Germany

Charlomagne's Basilica, Aachen.

Interior photo of Orange Nassau

Navigating to Lieges on The Albert Canal

Mooring of Orange Nassau in Lieges, Belgium

A beautiful field around Maastricht, Holland

Old Mill restaurant in Kanne, Flemish Belgium

Amazingly beautiful autumn scene near Kanne

Grande Place in Brussels, Belgium

The Seine, Paris

Tarahumara, far right, at The Arsenal, Paris